Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Elephant Corridor Closing

Photo courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica

A 2.5 kilometer wide corridor that connects the two Indian states of Kerala and Karnataka (located in the Western Ghats mountain range) is also the last unbroken forest leading the largest population of Asian elephants from wet season to dry season feeding grounds. This incredibly environmentally-sensitive corridor has become the scene of development which threatens an entire herd. The corridor is so sensitive it has become part of an international campaign to change the location of the development so it will not have such a harsh impact on the elephants.

The area is also one of the world’s ten "Hottest biodiversity hotspots" and has over 5000 species of flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird species and 179 amphibian species. At least 325 globally threatened species occur in the Western Ghats.

Presently, a busy interstate highway passes through the forest with checkpoints leading from one state to another in three places. This leaves the forest corridor free for the elephants. Unfortunately, and shortsightedly, the Indian government has decided to combine the checkpoints in the centre of the elephants’ corridor.

“This development would include all manner of infrastructure - building complexes, housing, offices, toilets and dormitories for drivers, a fuel filling station and so on,” writes the nonprofit conservation group, Rainforest Information Centre. “The checkpoint clearance takes hours, so there would be hundreds of lorries (trucks) parked along the road throughout the night on either side of the checkpoints within the forests preventing elephants from using the corridor.”

The Rainforest Information Center tells us that work is already in progress and a trench has been dug which prevents elephants “from crossing the road, cutting [the elephants] off from the river and whatever little fodder available on the river margin”.

“The best solution would be the relocation of the checking stations to outside the forest on the Kerala side of the corridor where suitable land for this is available,” suggests Rainforest Information Centre. “It is also necessary to prohibit vehicle movement during certain night-time hours for example, between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m.”

John Seed of Rainforest Information Centre told Monagabay.com: "we feel confident that international attention can persuade the Kerala government to move the site of its planned development out of the corridor and out of the jungle."

The Rainforest Information Centre is working with the Indian environmental organization, Wayanard Nature Protection Group (couldn't find link), and Forests.org, an online activist center. They encourage concerned persons to write to the governments of the states involved hoping that international attention and pressure will cause a change in the development plans.

This campaign has alot of suggestions for things concerned people can do.

1. Go to this link: http://forests.org/shared/alerts/send.aspx?id=india_elephants where an email can be sent with just a few mouse clicks.

2. Send an email to one or more of the Indian newspapers outlining your concerns. The very impressive list follows:

letters@thehindu.co.in The Hindu
editor@expressindia.com The Indian Express
editor@downtoearth.org.in Down to Earth (Science & Environment Fortnightly)
mail@sanctuaryasia.com Sanctuary Asia (Monthly magazine)
editor@economictimes.com Economic Times
feedback@hindustantimes.com Hindustan Times
aftnet@bom2.vsnl.net.in Afternoon Despatch & Courier (Bombay)
itgo@india-today.com India Today (weekly magazine)
letters@newsindia-times.com News India-Times
thestatesman@vsnl.com The Statesman (Calcutta)
decnet@blr.vsnl.net.in Deccan Herald (Bangalore)
toieditorial@timesgroup.com Times of India
feedback@indiaworld.co.in India World
ttedit@abpmail.com The Telegraph (Calcutta)
info@deccanmail.com Deccan Chronicle
blfeedback@thehindu.co.in Business Line
editor@dt.co.in Daily Thanthi (Tamil)
dmrcni@dinamalar.in Dinamalar (Tamil)
dinamanimds@epmltd.com Dinamani (Tamil)
editet@timesgroup.com Economic Times
kochi@epmltd.com The New Indian Express

3. Share your concerns and these addresses with friends.

1 comment:

John said...

Hey Pippa, thanks for helping let people know about this. As we were working on this issue, we discovered that the same population of elephants face an equally serious threat in the dry season part of their range in the adjoining state of Tamil Nadu. See http://www.rainforestinfo.org.au/e/tamil%20nadu.htm . The link you gave at forests.org - http://forests.org/shared/alerts/send.aspx?id=india_elephants generates emails about both these issues. I could also use a hand on this campaign from anyone comfortable on the internet - email me johnseed1 at ozemail.com.au